As we’ve been riding a wave of Animal Crossing-related good feeling for the last few months, it’s little surprise to see other titles hopping into the release schedule, hoping to catch the eye of those who’ve had enough of Tom Nook’s bell-driven community. After last weeks’ Summer at Mara, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is also on the horizon, and it might just be the cute time sink to see you through the next few months.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town might sound vaguely familiar, and that’s because it’s a 3D remake of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. This much beloved Gameboy Advance title from 2003 – itself a remake of the original PlayStation’s Harvest Moon: Back to Nature – is generally hailed as the series’ high point, making it the perfect subject for a modern remake, bringing all of its cute farming charms with it.
Once you’ve selected from the small range of avatars – two boys, two girls, and with three skin tones to choose from – you can decide on what degree of difficulty you want the game to give you. Normal Mode presents players with a decent farming challenge, while Simple Mode offers younger or more relaxed gamers a chunk of Gold to start the game with, a head start in the turnip field, and makes it easier to earn the affections of other characters.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town begins with a hint of melancholy as you’ve inherited your Grandfather’s farm after he’s passed away. You’re welcomed to the town by Thomas the mayor, and are taken on a trip down memory lane remembering a distant summer as a child when you stayed there. Friends of Mineral Town doesn’t dwell on things for too long though, as you’re soon waking up in your new home and getting to work.
Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley players will immediately feel at home with the way Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town functions. There are daily tasks to perform, including tending to your crops and foraging for materials out in the forest. Once you’re done with that you can sell crops you’ve harvested or items you’ve found by bunging them all in the Shipping Bin outside your house. Zack, a large man with a disappointing moustache, will come by to pick them up at 5pm each day.
Your first task is going to be weeding. Yes, I know you’ve spent months weeding that island in New Horizon within an inch of its life, but if you want to get anywhere with your farm in Friends of Mineral Town, it’s time to crack on. It’s in a right old state too when you get here – your poor old Grandad must not have been up to much towards the end – so there’s heaps to do right from the off.
You can just pick stuff up off the ground and sell it for a small amount of Gold, while preparing the earth for planting seeds. Alternatively, you can grab one of your tools and turn unwanted debris into something a little more useful. Chopping at them with your sickle might reward you with a special kind of grass, while taking your axe to a branch will turn it into a log which you can in turn use to craft various useful things for your farm.
Time goes by swiftly in Friends of Mineral Town, with a full day passing by in around twenty minutes. This keeps the loop a bit more immediate, compared to Animal Crossing’s 1:1 link with the real world, but the passing of time is still important. Every day you toil in the field your character’s energy slowly depletes until they can’t work anymore, and while you can eat to buff it back up, you really have to head off to bed to replenish it. It’s easier than working in the dark anyway.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town places a fair bit of emphasis on relationships and making friends with the inhabitants of the town can even lead to romance further down the line – maybe you’re looking for someone to do a bit of hoeing with?
You have to, you know, talk to them, a bit like a real relationship, though there’s a select number of bachelors and bachelorettes you can woo, shown by a heart next to their name when you’re chatting. With an eye on inclusivity and bringing the series up to date, XSEED have confirmed that you can have same-sex relationships too, making Friends of Mineral Town a dream farm life for everyone, which is fantastic to see.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town’s looks lovely in its new 3D clothes as well, though true to its roots, it feels more like Pokémon than Animal Crossing. Mineral Town is a big place, with plenty of houses and businesses in the town itself, while you can explore the beach and the mountain, walking up to the lookout and watching the beautiful sunset at the end of a hard day.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town gives light slice of life sim fans plenty to sink their teeth into. Besides getting your crops going, there’s animals to care for, townsfolk to woo, and activities to take part in. If you’re finished with Animal Crossing’s fossils, home upgrades and fishing, or if Stardew Valley is still a bit too fresh in your memory, Friends of Mineral Town might just be your next addiction.